This weekend four artists (Gita Khandagle, Darryl Jones, Robert Glass, Hillary Jones) converged at StoreFront Lab to create a reclusive pseudo meditative immersive experience between a digital forest and a steamy paint bath house.
The forest projections by Gita and Hillary covered the four walls, immersing the eyes in a montage of naked women embracing trees and nature. The footage could have easily fallen into the overplayed naked hipster in the woods being cool vibe but Hillary and Gita had carefully chosen women who had previously felt a connection with trees. Through these images we gaze at a palpable connection between humans and nature. The confidence between the women and nature created a subtle reality of acceptance and care within the room. In the corner, spots of tea were distributed. The sweet aroma of oolong tea rose from the back of the throat, channeling the last moments of an uninterrupted perspective.
The second immersion started when groups of strangers switched their clothes for canvas robes to prepare for their initiation into the paint bath. Nakedness peeped through the starched robe uniforms. We were ready but not sure what was to come next.
Now transformed into a tribe, those in robes were led in procession like obedience into another room. Sitar strings and gong vibrations lead the group over the paint soaked floors to a circle of ceremonial tones. We looked at one another as the ceremony leader poured vessels of paint into buckets and distributed cups of sake. Our first rite into possession of space was through the initial contact of our neighbors and spreading paint wherever we chose on their bodies. At the leader's signal, feet and hands disappeared into oceans of blue. From miniature splashes to great throws of passion, we covered walls possessing it all in blue.
When you felt like leaving the ceremony, a basin of warm water to wash in concluded your experience. The basin was regularly attended to bring the warmest water.
Wrapped in a new cover cut from the same canvas cloth, I walked away with a gratitude for the wonderfully generous experience. However, like the city itself, I also felt that there was no completeness to the experience, no sense of identity but rather musings in being someone else for a little bit. The core of my personhood did not feel calm but riveted by the potential of more extraordinary experiences that we all seek in a city hungry for the new.